Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas isn't Christmas without...

For me, a mystery simply isn't a cozy without the traditional ingredients I've come to expect--an amateur sleuth, an inciting crime, a slew of suspects and red-herring clues, and a thrilling unveiling of the villain along with the crime's resolution at the end.

A traditional romance needs a heroine and hero who find themselves attracted to one another and yet struggle against overwhelming odds and obstacles until love finally wins out in the end. A romance simply isn't a romance without a Happily Ever After conclusion.

And Christmas wouldn't seem like Christmas without our family's traditions incorporated into the celebration of the Messiah's advent. When the family starts to gather from the hinderlands on Christmas Eve, each member will come with their own set of traditional expectations. I look forward to the candlelight communion service and arranging the display of my Aunt Ruth's handmade ceramic nativity. Then there's the reading of the Christmas story with all the kiddos gathered 'round.

My kids wouldn't think it's Christmas Eve without the crockpot buffet of BBQ "baby weiners," and corn potato chowder; Sam Dillon's stuffed mushrooms and pumpkin roll, Christmas fudge, eggnog, and my daughter-in-law Jara's annual request of mulled cider.

Then there's the tradition of opening one gift each on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Morn, followed by my kitchen frenzy to cook up everyone's favorite holiday dishes. In addition to the turkey, before declaring the holiday meal a success, my five kids all demand Green Beans Almondine and at least three different potato dishes (the classic mashed, a sweet potato souffle, and that new holiday tradition--(despite much personal protest) cheesy potato casserole. By the time everyone has had their fill of a variety of pies, I declare a personal strike on Gram's kitchen work, and the gang is left to fend for themselves. We are typically eating turkey-and-cranberry-sauce sandwiches until there's nothing left but the turkey carcass.

Another holiday tradition we've established in recent years has been that of the relegated meal-prep days. Since our children fly in from all over the country, they usually come to stay for several days beyond Christmas. One year after the kids departed for their respective homes, I complained to my husband that I'd spent the whole holiday week in the kitchen and barely got to hold my new grandson. Since then, we assign each of our five adult children the responsibility of preparing a post-Christmas meal for the crew. I will do the shopping in advance if they provide me a list, but they take over from there, doing all the meal prep and clean up. The whole family gets to enjoy something a little different as each brother or sister tries to outshine their siblings. And I get to romp and snuggle with those four grandkids of mine!

So what family tradition "makes" Christmas for you? Is it an event? A recipe? Please share. And may Christmas 2008 be a Holy season, filled with a double portion of love and laughter.


Mary Connealy said...

I've decided that being a good cook isn't about how deftly you roll out pastry or how well you flip the pancakes or sift the flour.

It's about picking recipes well.
What tastes good...and do you have good judgment in your taste buds.

And for me, a big factor is easy. If it takes a lot of time, it's just not going to be one of my standards.

So, on Christmas eve we have an appetizer dinner.
cheese and crackers
little smokies
shrimp cocktail
Stuffed Mushrooms.

Anything else we can think of that sounds good, the girls all bring stuff, too.

So, my stuffed mushroom recipe.
A box of fresh mushrooms
Tear off the stems and mince
Mix stems with
1/4 c mayo
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
fill whole mushroom caps and broil.

That's it. Delicious and takes minutes and it's very fancy looking.
And the more I look at stuffed mushrooms the more I see that you can add anything to this, seasoning, bread crumbs, diced onions, etc. So go nuts and add what you want.

Erica Vetsch said...

What a great idea to share out the KP! I'm so using that one someday!

Our holiday traditions that make things special are:

Reading Luke 2 on Christmas morning.

The candlelight service at church on Christmas Eve.

Hosting a New Year's Day party with friends, food, and football.

CHickey said...

Years ago, when the kids were still at home, we celebrated with my husband's children on Christmas Eve and started Christmas Eve breakfast. At that time it consisted of pancakes, strawberries, and whipped cream. Now that my step-children are grown, with families of their own, we've changed Christmas Eve breakfast a bit. My husband prints out homemade menus, which family members fill out a head of time, and when we gather on Christmas Eve, each person receives the breakfast of their choosing.

Just try and take the tradition away! Even from the adults!

Beth Loughner said...

Our family loves the Christmas Eve service at church and the big Christmas turkey....and fudge...and cookies.

One tradition we've had for many years is the tree lighting at Roscoe Village in Ohio. Becky, Susan and JoAnne probably know this historical canal-town. The big pine tree in the center of town would be lit and then the most fantastic thing would happen. We all had unlit candles and someone in the front would begin lighting the candles of those closest while we sang "Silent Night" several times. The person(s) would then turn around and light the candle of the person(s) behind them until everyone had a lit candle. It really lit up the square.

A new tradition this year is volunteering at the historical Ohio Village for their 1850's "Dicken's of a Christmas" production". It's neat to dress up in the costumes and become a 19th Century woman. My youngest teen daughter is also helping. I hope to have pictures up on my website within the next couple of days, and will take more pictures this coming weekend. I love telling the story of the real St. Nick and how his love for Jesus gave him the heart to give.


CatMom said...

I love reading about traditions other families have. We have several (and some special recipes too!) but perhaps the most meaningful to me is this one: Ever since Amy (my firstborn, now 24) was a newborn, I've been reading aloud the Christmas story in Luke on Christmas Eve. Although all 3 of my kiddos have been able to read for years, it's tradition for Mom(me) to read this special Story to them. So I'm looking forward to continuing our tradition again this year on Christmas Eve, as I gather my 24-, 21-, and 17-year-old around me!! Blessings,
Patti Jo :)